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Collaboration for start-ups

Collaboration: Why and How It Can Help Your Start-Up

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Collaboration for start-up successTrent McAree had a vision for a business selling smoothie fruit bowls, but to make a go of selling organic acai blended with fresh tastes, whole fruits and flax and chia granola, he needed a location.

So McAree teamed with the DI Coffee Bar on Tampa’s Davis Islands. He carved out a small corner in the shop and applied his wares, taking advantage of a steady location in a popular strip mall. Meanwhile, the coffee bar got to expand its options.

Now McAree will replicate the model at a South Tampa yoga studio where participants will surely look for a healthy snack after wrapping up a session in the lotus position.

In the end, a win-win for both, and another example of how a collaborative effort can work for a start-up business.

These days, collaboration in the business world most often refers to corporations working with startups. Startup Bootcamp, a global accelerator group, estimates that 70 percent of startups have done business with larger corporations.

Yet collaboration also can involve teaming with another startup or enhancing the effort with experts from a specific field. Either way collaboration remains a key tenet for entrepreneurs.

In short, teamwork can make the dream work.

Here are five reasons every start-up should explore collaborative possibilities, and five ways how they can make it happen.

 

Why It Works

1) Puts the Start in Start-Up

McAree’s story perfectly illustrates how collaboration can lend advantages to a start-up. He knew he had a marketable product, but how could he go about making it happen while minimizing overhead. Yes, he sacrifices a bit of control, but the coffee shop bridged the divide. The same can be said about other businesses. A start-up desire to connect with a larger corporation may be rooted in a desire to sell the company. Startup Bootcamp estimates 45 percent of start-ups are looking to be purchased by corporations. On the other hand, start-ups may simply be seeking a partnership to help grow the company.

2) Sharpens the Sales Pitch

The pursuit of a corporate partner can help the start-up perfect its sales pitch for actual customers. Just as the entrepreneur must perfect the “why” in capturing the interest of prospective buyers, he has to do so in reeling in a corporate partner. Keep in mind however, the product, app or service doesn’t have to be perfect before you begin to showcase it and look to entice partners. Tampa businessman Chon Nguyen says some focus on making the product perfect or pretty, instead of functional, and never get the business off the ground. Once the partnership is established, the corporate partner can use its experience to help the start-up enhance the pitch.

3) Enhances the Product

The collaborative partnership can help the entrepreneur improve on the product or service they hope to peddle. Nguyen grew his interest into multiple computer-related businesses, but then a friend working in the restaurant business reached out to him about a dilemma. They needed a way to distribute recipes to multiple restaurants in the chain, and paper wasn’t cutting it. Nguyen developed a digital system where the recipes could be reviewed on screens in the kitchen, but Nguyen said they needed to collaborate with the restaurateurs and kitchen staff to perfect the product. “We’re technologists, not chefs.” The partnership came up with the answers and now his company, FusionPrep, provides its system to more than 1,000 restaurants.

4) Brings it to the Market

Partnering with a company or angel investor can be the key to growing a business or increasing the distribution of the product. Mulberry’s Johnny Carter recognized a breakthrough in 2017 when Publix picked up his Johnny B Brown Bar-B-Que Sauce. The deal not only allowed him to sell more sauce, but according to a report in The Ledger newspaper it made it possible for him to partner with a packing company in Clearwater to help deliver his brown, hickory-flavored sauce. It’s a classic example of scaling up, and it harkens back to Nguyen’s advice about functionality over perfection. The larger corporation or collaborative partner can help with the perfection aspects. Make it functional.

5) Creates a Win-Win

The collaborative effort works best when it creates a win-win, but a mutual beneficial relationship often requires a strategic fit that goes beyond a general interest. It’s not just about finding a company with deep pockets. It’s about connecting with a corporation that can truly use your product or service to remain innovative. The startup should look for a company that really could benefit from what its offering and aligns with its values.

 

How to Make It Happen

1) Make the Connection

Networking remains an important part of any start-up’s path, and it goes beyond attendance at traditional events or joining the chamber. The tech community particularly offers several ways for startups to garner interest in their entrepreneurial ideas, including events specifically designed to connect new companies with established corporations looking to innovate through a start-up. While those approaches remain viable, it also helps to utilize the latest technology. Nguyen suggested using LinkedIn to target specific companies who might benefit from the product.

2) Do Your Homework

The start-up entrepreneur must be a knowledge expert about the targeted field, and he must understand the culture of the specific companies he targets. Nesta, a global innovation foundation, stressed the need for startups to understand how a company functions and the hurdles it’ll need to overcome to partner with a startup. The expert knowledge also will help in creating partnerships with companies to aid the efforts. Some corporations may expect the startup to provide marketing and PR. Understanding what you’re trying to achieve can sway a ancillary company to lend a hand.

3) Don’t Sweat the IP

Some startups worry about the theft of intellectual property when partnering with corporations, but it’s a fear largely unfounded. It’s necessary to take the proper legal steps to assure a sound partnership, but Nesta noted “most firms don’t want to steal your idea and, more often than not, the idea itself is a very small part of the finished product.” Nguyen backed that assertion, noting that the idea is worth a lot less than the execution required to build the product. “Grit and velocity often prove to be the real strengths.”

4) Be Patient

It may take time to find a corporate partner. Consider this statistic from Startup Bootcamp: an estimated 48 percent of startups took six months or more to partner with a corporation. According to KPMG, it takes an average of 9.4 months from the first meeting until a collaboration is established. In the interim seek mentors and other partners who can help you enhance what your selling. This can range from PR practitioners and marketers to web designers and others you might meet in a networking opportunity or at a cowork space.

5) Keep Your Options Open

A start-up may specifically target a company with the certainty that it’s the answer to its dreams. However, in the quest for success, alternative routes may emerge. Carter, the man who convinced Publix to carry his barbecue sauce, operates a restaurant in the same county where Publix is located. He longed for his sauce to be carried by the grocery store giant, but that didn’t lead him to pass up on an earlier chance to peddle his sauce through Publix competitor Winn Dixie, which had a special “Winn-Local” program aiming to assist mom-and-pop entrepreneurs, especially women and minorities.

 

It’s clear collaborative efforts reduce workloads and create shortcuts. Collaboration also leads to innovation, but start-ups must be positioned to find the collaborators and take advantage of the opportunities. With an entrepreneurial community dotted with successful veteran business leaders, as well as a calendar of networking events, Rising Tide Innovation Center is the perfect vehicle to help start-ups find the right collaborative fuel to drive your business.

Coworking

More Than A Desk: How to Maximize Your Cowork Time

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Maximizing coworkingShe came into the cowork space with uncertain expectations.

An adjunct professor longing to gain full-time status — she taught classes at the state university, the community college and a for-profit institution — she signed up seeking a quiet space to grade papers and sharpen course guidelines.

One morning, with space filling quickly, she stepped outside of her shell and took up a spot at a community tables next to a freelance writer.

They struck up a conversation, not about her work as a math educator or her doctoral degree in early learning education, but about the challenges of raising teenagers. A friendship began to form after that day and they made a point to speak each time they ran into each other at the cowork space.

When the freelance writer learned she held definitive thoughts about teaching math to children under 5, it piqued his curiosity. He suggested she contact his friend who conducts an annual early-learning seminar in the adjacent county and apply to teach a session.

She gained approval, and that one session led to more engagements. One of the participants who sat in on her seminar loved her theories. That initial impression led to an interview and she eventually landed a job — not teaching classes but serving as the executive director of an early learning initiative at the state university.

The story illustrates what can happen at a cowork space when you go beyond just seeking a place to squat with your laptop for a couple of hours.

Cowork spaces have risen in popularity because they offer a unique opportunity to utilize a productive work environment while taking advantage of networking opportunities and convenient amenities.

Here are four steps you can take to make the most of a cowork space.

FIRST, GET COMFORTABLE

A great cowork space will offer a variety of work stations and environments. The new member should experiment and find the spot where they can be most productive.

• The comfy chair, where you can make your computer live up to its name as a laptop, may be best.

• The standing desk fits your energy, allowing you to work while achieving your health goals.

• The conventional desk delivers the creature comforts of a traditional office.

• The community table allows you to spread out a little bit while inviting others to engage in conversation.

• The inner office lends greater quiet and allows for a more intense focus.

However, don’t overlook the art of getting comfortable. As you grow more accustom to the cowork space, you may discover the different options foster different types of productivity. Certain tasks may require a focused effort that necessitates retreating to the inner office; while the comfy chair may be best for editing your work or the work of others.

This is why experimenting with the different work stations can prove so beneficial. A great cowork space provides the options you can’t find at home or even a coffee shop.

SECOND, ACCESS THE AMENITIES

Great cowork spaces feature great amenities. Once you join, make the most of them. If the Kuerig machine beckons, get another cup of your favorite joe. Need a pick me up, grab a snack out of the kitchen. Seeking a secluded spot for that private phone call, step into one of the closed rooms.

But those are the obvious. Some cowork members may not realize other great values.

• Get to know cowork community manager. Go beyond just learning their names. Connect with their hopes and aspirations and share your own dreams. They may be able to lend advice that can boost your goals or connect you to other cowork members who can prove to be an asset.

• Show off your space to clients and perspective clients. Some see the cowork space as the location for work tasks, and then flee to some restaurant or coffee shop to hold a meeting. Such an approach doesn’t maximize the value. Schedule coffee dates at your cowork space. Let others get a sense of the warmth and vibrancy you rely on to be productive. They may appreciate the introduction so much they will join you.

• Take advantage of event space. There may be an added fee, but inviting community members, potential investors or mentors into the center for a coffee klatch or happy hour can be the perfect way to showcase your efforts and reflect your goals and, in some cases, formally launch your business.

Yes, it’s a cowork space, but it’s also “your space.” Own it in its entirety.

THIRD, CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY

The story of the aspiring professor reflects a real value of the community space. Networking. Serendipitous moments can arise from chance encounters and the benefits of extended friendships are all too real. Most important, they can’t really happen if you’re alone in your home office.

• Bring the sunshine each time you step into your cowork space. Each member operates independently, but activities and acknowledgment between members can fuel productivity and happiness. Wayne Baker, the Robert P. Thome Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, defines this as “relational energy,” an energy that is a vital personal and organizational resource and a key to greater productivity.

• Make friends with your fellow cowork members. And don’t think it’s a simply a matter of networking so you can gain advantage. The great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, ”You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Everyone brings a degree of expertise to a cowork space, and while you certainly want to tap into that advantage, you also want to recognize it’s a two-way street. Sometimes it’s not about immediate dividends, it’s about trusting the process and believing in a little karma.

• Attend events staged by the cowork. Yes, you will be smart to work at the community. If you have a separate office, forgo it from time to time and step into the primary cowork space. Yet, even if you do those things, you also should be a presence at the cowork’s nighttime or special events. Even the experienced entrepreneur can gain from various presentations, plus attendance reflects a true commitment to the cowork community.

The best cowork members not only follow these practices to benefit themselves, but to boost the quality of the cowork space. When you find a home at the right cowork space, engage and spread the word about the benefits.

FOURTH, MAKE THE COWORK WORK FOR YOU

While the cowork benefits are plentiful, you have to ensure the activity, acknowledgements and ambient noise all add to your productivity. There’s no advantage to belonging to a center where you converse with others but fail to get work done.

• Develop a routine once you find a cowork space that works best for you. Experts say routines serve as one of the biggest keys to productivity. It starts at home with preparing a to-do list the night before, awaking at a specific time and developing habits that point to accomplishing big tasks first. Stephen Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

• Navigate the networking with dedicated days or times. You want to connect with cowork members, as described above, but if you’re experiencing a particularly busy morning or need to focus on meeting a deadline, squirrel away in a corner, don headphones — the universal symbol you can’t talk — and go to work.

• Take a break from key tasks. A lot of research into productivity — including groundbreaking research from pioneering sleep expert Nathaniel Kleitman — indicates that daily activity operates on “ultradian rhythms.” These waves of energy indicate that after 90 to 120 minutes of concentrated work, the mind often needs a 15-to-20-minute respite. This approach can help you maximize productivity in a cowork space.

In short, remember that collaboration and cooperation are key tenets of the cowork, but so too is work.

If you arrive at your cowork space with a developed routine, ready to connect and bring the sunshine, you can find the experience as exhilarating as a pilot taking off from the runway. Many are finding that experience at Rising Tide Innovation Center. Come learn more about how this cowork can help you rise to new heights.

Coworking

7 Ways Coworking Can Help You Grow Your Business

By | All Articles, Cowork Culture | No Comments

CoworkingSometimes the home office grows a little too homey.

The entrepreneur can thrive working out of the house, until the call of the couch and the temptation of the television prove too much.

Who can work when The Breakfast Club flashes onto the screen for the 4,037th time? Your efforts to generate the next great idea aren’t quite as lonely when you’re hanging in the high school library with Molly, Judd, Emilio, Ally and Anthony.

“Don’t mess with the bull, young man, you’ll get the horns.”

Even the focused worker who leaves the TV off may find the silence of home a bit too deafening. So, they retreat to a coffee shop. There, they nestle among strangers and hope that parent doesn’t arrive with a distracting child who insists he deserves a cookie.

When the piercing pleas of a toddler or the gossipy laughs of neighbors don’t disrupt morning routines, ambitious start-up owners still worry someone will pilfer their laptop each time they go to the bathroom or step outside to take a call.

The solution? The cowork space. It’s a place that can lead to laser-focus efforts without laser-like costs, a place that offers the ambient noise of an office and the professional support more commonly found in the corporate world.

Most of all, you get community. The cowork space fosters work ethic while allowing for meaningful connections. Here are seven coworking benefits that have helped the industry become one of the nation’s fastest-growing business trends.

1. Escape the House

Working from home may hold some financial advantages, but the distractions—be it television, sofa or food—eat away at productivity. Devoting your energy to getting up, getting dressed and going to a dedicated work space lends purpose to your work day. Studies indicate people generate greater focus and achieve more when dressed for the day instead of sitting down in their pajamas and fuzzy slippers. Officevibe, a company that monitors and measures employee satisfaction, revealed in a recent survey that 68 percent of coworkers possess a greater focus while in the space, and 64 percent are better able to complete tasks on time. The cowork space also allows entrepreneurs to enhance the intrinsic value of separating work from home.

2. Add the Amenities

The cowork space offers services an entrepreneur may not possess at home: a business address, business mail service, copying and printing, and in some cases, a receptionist and other support staff.  It also features advantages seldom found in the neighborhood coffee shop, including viable Internet services, Skype capabilities, conference rooms and isolated rooms for phone conversations. In the effort to expand your business with face-to-face meetings, the cowork space proves more professional than the home and more discreet than the Starbucks.

3. Keep it Simple

Utilizing cowork space allows for greater flexibility and freedom than renting your own office space. Overhead is minimized because of the shared resources approach, freeing up precious financial resources for other needs. It also reduces the need to work 9-5 in “your office.” Because of the shared approach, someone can mind the store while you’re out lunching with prospective clients, connecting with disrupters, furthering your business or even devoting some midday hours to a family need.

4. Acquire New Skills

Most cowork spaces offer classes and events that can enhance the skill set of folks who own small businesses and start-up companies. Look for the cowork space that fills its calendars with how-to presentations and easily accessible seminars about succeeding in the 21st century business. The chance to expand your knowledge base may be one of the most important amenities offered by a cowork space.

5. Amp the Atmosphere

Entering an office space with like-minded individuals can sharpen focus, boost energy and increase productivity. When people put themselves among other entrepreneurs all looking to fuel their dreams, they can channel that entrepreneurial spirit into their own efforts. The independent mindset that’s so germane to co-work spaces not only fosters a stronger perspective, but it can lend to support when the aspiring business person encounters disappointing days or suffers a setback.

6. Conquer Loneliness

Working at home or squirreling away in a coffee shop can lead to feelings of isolation or loneliness. This not only applies to the enterprising entrepreneurs but to the growing number of corporate employees who are being asked to telecommute. Emergent Research shared its recent findings in a Harvard Business Review article, and the numbers were striking: 87 percent of coworking members meet other members for social reasons; 83 percent decrease their sense of loneliness and 89 percent are happier.

7. Collaborate with Community

Once entrepreneurs and workers find their way into the cowork space, they often discover a sense of collaboration and community. A tech worker looking to develop a new application may connect with a fellow cowork member who can help him market the product. A public relations practitioner may be steered towards a new client thanks to a reference from a fellow cowork member. Infinite networking possibilities exist, and all of them can generate greater success.

The Rising Tide Innovation Center possesses all the above benefits and a few more (like a cereal bar!). With Fletcher & Fischer. P.L. operating the center, Rising Tide members can reach out to a legal team that serves developers, lenders and businesses in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They also can tap into the firm’s genuine passion for building community, which has served as a cornerstone for the firm. Says partner Leigh Fletcher: “Community building is so exciting and enriching to me. It makes me a better business person, a better lawyer and a better person, in general. I want to create the opportunity for others to have that.”

If you’re looking for the right co-work space, visit the center and discover how a rising tide lifts all boats.